2020 Best & Brightest MBAs: Connie Melgarejo, IESE Business School

Constanza (Connie) Melgarejo

IESE Business School

“Versatile and always ready to help, like a human Swiss army knife. Curious, passionate, idealist.”

Hometown: Colón, Entre Rios, Argentina / Basel, Switzerland

(The question “where are you from?” is usually the hardest to answer. I lived in six different countries growing up, so I like to consider myself a world citizen)

Fun fact about yourself: I am currently applying to culinary school! I am a self-taught baker, mostly inspired by social media and cooking shows, but I would like to take my love of baking to the next level and become a pastry chef.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Maastricht University – BSc Economics

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Novartis, Reporting Lead Analyst – Basel, Switzerland

Where did you intern during the summer of 2019? Bain & Company – Zurich, Switzerland

Where will you be working after graduation? Bain & Company – Zurich, Switzerland

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Consulting Club VP – Organized and led training, workshops, interview simulations, and panels aimed to prepare students for the consulting recruiting process. Established a new VP role of “Women in Consulting” to mirror companies’ efforts to increase female engagement and promote greater representation in the industry.
  • Retail and Luxury Club VP – Chaired internship panel aimed at sharing experiences of job hunting in a less structured recruiting process. Supported the organization of the Retail & Luxury trek to London and the Retail and Luxury Career Forum hosted at IESE.
  • Operations Lead, IESE Spring Games 2020 – Managed operations for IESE´s Spring Games; a 3-day sports and social event, hosting over 800 students from more than 10 MBA business schools around the world.
  • Music Club and Choir Co-president – Active member of IESE´s students and staff choir. Relaunched the (previously dormant) IESE Music Club.
  • Rugby Team Member and (unofficial) Social Chair – Led recruiting efforts to increase the number of girls on the team. Planned the first-ever “Rugby trek” a trip to Rome, Italy to watch a six nations match (a.k.a. a tactical training session).
  • CV Army – Worked with the career development center to review, provide feedback, and update the CVs of the incoming class of 2021, to get them ready for internship recruiting.
  • Healthcare Club First-Year Director – Attempted to revitalize the club’s social media profiles to increase its visibility and leverage them as communication channels.
  • Forté Fellow, Forté Foundation

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Last summer I was selected to give the welcome speech for the incoming class of 2021. I was humbled by the opportunity to share my experience and reflections of the MBA with the new students. I was particularly excited to push beyond my fears and insecurities and stand in front of a crowd of 400 students and staff, something that a couple of years back I would have never imagined doing, given my stage fright!

Preparing for this presentation allowed me to put the first year of the MBA into perspective, and see how far I had come and how much I had learned since starting the program. I chose to use the speech to openly talk about how to make the best of the MBA experience: embracing the challenges, welcoming the changes, and celebrating successes along the way. I was very touched by the audience’s response to my story, many of whom reached out to share how they were inspired by it. I am very proud that by honestly addressing both my achievements and shortcomings, I created such a strong connection with the class of 2021 and laid a solid foundation for new friendships with many of them.

A little extra: To add to the excitement of this moment, another challenge presented itself along the way. The day of the welcome speech coincided with a trip to cross off an item on my bucket list: Walking “El Camino de Santiago” (St. James’ Way, a pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela). However, I would like to think that you can have your cake and eat it too [baking pun intended], so I cut my trip short a couple of days and pushed myself to complete the last 100km segment of the pilgrimage in five days instead of a week!

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In 2013, I joined the finance transformation team at Novartis as an intern to support a project roll-out. Within a year, I was appointed project implementation manager for the Latin America region. I was both surprised and grateful for the trust that my manager, Stefan, put on me despite having such little experience at the time.

This role pushed me completely outside my comfort zone. It was both the scariest and most rewarding professional experience I have had so far. Despite being so junior, I successfully implemented a new payment process, by remotely coordinating multifunctional teams and leading colleagues my senior (in both age and experience) through influence, as I had no direct reporting lines. The assignment revealed to me that I had the skills; I just needed that extra nudge to go for it! This experience taught me the importance of having a mentor that sees your true potential, empowers you to go beyond your own limits, and takes courageous risks to develop you. I look forward to the day I can be that mentor to someone else.

Why did you choose this business school? I had the opportunity to experience IESE’s culture first-hand many times: at open days, through their summer MBA program, and as a child, while my dad completed his MBA (1999-2001). One thing that really stood out about IESE was its focus on creating a very personal experience. The use of the case method ensures that every single student at IESE isn’t there just to learn but also becomes an integral part of the teaching experience. The diversity of the class, composed of students from all parts of the world and walks of life means that each one of us has something unique to contribute to the class and we have an opportunity to make our voice heard and share our experiences. Additionally, despite the 700+ students in the full-time MBA program, all members of the cafeteria know the students by name and, in some cases, even know their regular order! For me, this showed how the members of IESE’s community are uniquely valued and create a strong sense of belonging.

As an added plus, being in Barcelona has many benefits outside of school! The amazing weather, the beach, gastronomic options, cultural activities, and proximity to the airport for a weekend escape means you’ll never get bored or run out of things to do.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? I am sure this has been said before but BE YOURSELF.

Do not change who you are or how you present yourself to fit the ideal you think the school is looking for. Do your research and make sure that you are familiar with IESE’s culture and values, and that these are the right fit for you. IESE is characterized by its global mindset, a spirit of service, and professional excellence, which are reflected in all aspects of the learning experience during the MBA. It is also a very demanding program academically, which will require lots of in-class participation – make sure you understand what this means for you.

Additionally, perseverance is key. Don’t take no for an answer. If you think IESE is the school for you and it does not work the first time around, ask what you can do to improve and try again!

What is the biggest myth about your school? IESE is highly demanding academically. This is particularly true for the first year at IESE, when students are expected to prepare 3 cases every day. It is important they are well prepared since a significant portion of the grading comes from active participation in class. In the second year, however, there’s a lot more flexibility and opportunities to focus on soft skills, get involved in clubs, travel, etc…. The choice is yours!

In the words of the academic director: “The first year is ours [IESE], the second year is yours [student]”

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I have great admiration for Maria Sofia Rodriguez Lira, a fellow Argentinean classmate and a person I am very lucky to call my friend. Sofia is one of the most disciplined people I have met, as well as a role model for a well-balanced life. I had the pleasure of sharing many choir practices, coffee breaks, and lunches with Sofia, as well as the opportunity of collaborating with her in team projects and the organization of an Argentinean Asado (BBQ) for the IESE community. Her genuine passion and dedication to serve and help the community through her work as the president of the Social Action Club and her demonstrated ability to overcome challenges and persevere, running the organization of IESE’s Doing Good Doing Well conference, have truly inspired me. More importantly, regardless of her busy schedule, Sofia always finds the time to support a friend in need.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Gratefully, both of my parents have been extremely supportive and essential to my success in all aspects of my life. Specific to business, my father has been an inspiration and role model. In 1999, he left his job and moved his family across the globe in search of a new challenge and opportunity for growth, joining IESE’s class of 2001. When he started his MBA I was seven years old and, although at the time I did not know what it meant or it stood for, I knew that this was something I too wanted to do.

There are two very important learnings I have taken from my father to be successful in business (and life):

  • Uplift and empower those around you: His roles following the MBA took him to different places of the world, yet no matter where he went his focus on people marked his path as a leader who inspired trust and motivated those around him to do and be better.
  • Work hard and persevere: Don’t let obstacles and nay-sayers put you down. If you work hard and believe in yourself, you can achieve whatever you set your heart to doing. In his case, my father completed a demanding MBA program (including an exchange semester abroad) taking his wife and two daughters along with him, even when everyone told him he was crazy for even thinking about it!

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I would like to combine my finance and strategy knowledge as well as my experience in the healthcare sector in a role leading corporate M&A deals in the pharmaceutical industry. Using my strengths to improve the quality of life through better access to the latest innovations in healthcare, while creating shareholder value. (I admit it, maybe that last part sounds too much like a sales pitch)

Once I retire from corporate life, I would like to set up my own business: most likely a café or bakery to pursue my love of baking and share it with the world.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like to be remembered as someone with a constant desire to help and get involved, looking for new opportunities to develop myself and those around me.

Hobbies? I like to consider myself a true jack-of-all-trades (master of some), trying and getting involved in a wide variety of activities, sometimes so vastly different they seem incoherent. However, if I had to choose a few things I could not live without, they would be: Trivia nights with friends, baking delicious treats, and shamelessly singing my heart out in karaoke.

What made Connie such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“Connie is an incredibly active and engaged member of the IESE community. She embodies the school’s spirit of service taking leadership roles and supporting integral parts of IESE’s student life.

She is a leader and mentor in the Consulting Club, working with students and career services to improve interview outcomes. Connie has also taken on a VP role in the Retail and Luxury Club, is an active member of the choir and rugby team, and a valuable asset in the organization of IESE Spring Games, where she managed operations and the coordination of 50 volunteers. Whenever support is needed, Connie is the first to volunteer to provide a helping hand, be it in open day recruiting events or at the graduation of the class of 2019.

She has also demonstrated an ability to confidently present herself, speaking openly about her MBA experience and sharing advice with the incoming class of 2021 in an engaging welcome speech.

Despite taking her responsibilities seriously, Connie handles life with humor. With her passionate personality and outspoken nature, she does not go unnoticed.

In the classroom, I had the pleasure of teaching Connie in the financial accounting course, where she actively participated and shared her experience in the topic. She is a very curious individual who has displayed outstanding commitment to continuous learning and has excelled in all courses she has tackled.

Beyond the MBA I trust Connie will continue to contribute to the IESE community as an engaged alumnus, following in the steps of her father, a very active member of the IESE class of 2001.”

Marc Badia, Academic Director MBA program, IESE Business School

“For many, it’s ‘either-or’, for resourceful Connie it’s ‘and’.

She has been doing great in class and she has attended and/or organized all the extra-curricular activities you can imagine. She has strong opinions on issues she is well acquainted with, and she is a good listener, open and curious when in unchartered territory. She is fun and yet very serious. She has lived in six countries – it is hard for her to reply to the basic question “where are you from?” – and she has somewhat strong roots in all these six countries. She thinks quickly and she speaks slowly. She plays rugby and she has a passion (and talent) for baking. She is very focused on her career and professional development, and she spends time helping other students to realize their dreams. She is this and much more.”

 Giovanni Valentini, PhD
Professor of Strategic Management


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